What’s that URL again?

Sometimes technology seems to make things harder than they need to be. Your computer hard drive might die, a server might be down or for some reason your grades simply won’t save. Unfortunately, none of these things are in your control and, sometimes you might feel very helpless. One of my constant technology frustrations has to do with long URL’s. While that might seem like a pretty simple thing, when I’m trying to find something and I get a url such as http://www.pkwy.k12.mo.us/tis/index2.cfm?goToLocation=homepages/home.cfm&userid=wbass, my eyes tend to glaze over. There’s no way I’m going to remember that and, chances are, I’m not going to write it down either. Even if I took the time to do it, I’m sure I’d miss one the “?”.

Now consider how great it is when someone sends you a link inside an email and that link is too long so when you click on it you get an error message. Then you can go through the convoluted process of copying, paste and hope. So, how does one get around the curse of the long url? Use a url shortener. You might have seen a url such as http://tinyurl.com/4at7a8c at some point in your internet travels. Tinyurl.com is a url shortening service that turns that long, unmanageable internet site into something that can be easily read. (Or at least a little shorter). That url I might actually be able to write down accurately.

Additionally, that url can be customizable. So instead of http://tinyurl.com/4at7a8c I could actually make it http://tinyurl.com/wbass which is infinitely more memorable.

Now, why would you use this? Let’s look at some ways:

  • Using shortened url’s is a great way to direct students to a specific page on a site without having to show them how to navigate to where you want them to be.
  • If there’s a specific article that you want them to read and respond to, use a shortened url with a custom ending so it’s easily found and written down.
  • Use one in your email signature to direct parents to your website.
  • Give that shortened url to parents in your beginning of the year communications so they can remember it more easily.

Shortened URL’s can save you time and effort as you navigate the web. If you’re looking for a place to get started, here are some sites that provide this service.

Common shorteners:

There are many more out there, but these three I’ve used at least once.

So take some of the frustration out of navigating the web as you share those links with your students using a URL shortener. If you have a different shortener that you prefer or if you just question why you’d use such a thing, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

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